It's that time again: time to make critical assessments of fictional robots that were created forty years ago. We must be silent no longer! This time we're going to look at the Gas Gang - a group of evil robots based on... gases. When you get right down to it, this is an odd idea, even for The Metal Men. Let's take a look:
As you no doubt guessed, the Gas Gang were built by Doc Magnus, during a period of time that he spent as a robot, which I'm sure that we can all relate to. Since the strange space gasses or whatever it was that transformed him that particular time also made him evil (as so often happens), he set the Gas Gang on his beloved Metal Men.
I'm pretty fond of the Gas Gang because they're just total assholes. A lot of other Metal Men foes were world-conquering tyrants or twisted scientific geniuses or were in love with Tina for some reason, but the Gas Gang is mostly concerned with beating the holy hell out of the Metal Men. They're refreshingly uncomplicated, the robotic equivalent of spinach salad.
They also die oddly:
That's right, the Gas Gang - beings composed primarily of gas - are evaporated out of existence. Which, uh, seems... weird. Is there a new state of matter between gas and plasma that nobody's taken the time to tell me about? Super Gassey? Xtreme Gas? Gas Plus Plus? Whatever it's called, the Gas Gang go down like chumps.
Gas Gang Roll Call!
I always think of Chloroform as the leader of the Gas Gang, but this is possibly because he attacks first. I've got to say I've got some issues with Chloroform's design. I mean sure, he's got a great face, but he also doesn't have any arms. Arms that would be useful in a fight against robots. Robots that don't breathe and therefore can't possibly be affected by chloroform gas. Right?
Oh. I'm wrong. The Metal Men breathe, apparently. And chloroform makes you laugh before knocking you out, a fact that the Metal Men crew were quite impressed by, as seen here:
See? Arms are useful! The above image actually marks Chloroform's first appearance, on a one page collection of factoids.
Anyway, my real problem with Chloroform is that he looks like a nutmeg grater that my grandmother owns, like Evil Robot Doc Magnus had originally started work on a gang of robots called the Spice Squad (Nutmeg! Cinnamon! Pepper! Oregano! Onion Salt!) but then realized that that was lame. Rar! I am Chloroform! I have no arms! I'm riddled with holes! I dispense gases that should have no effect on shape-changing uber-bots! I'm kicking your asses! Lame. Lame. Lame. Lame. Lame.
Nonetheless, nostalgia for that nutmeg grater compels me to say JOHN APPROVED.
By contrast with Chloroform, I do very much enjoy Oxygen's design. He's got cute little limbs and an adorable hose arm. His angry little pressure gauge face is just precious. Plus, I need him in order to live. However, he shouldn't be able to do this:
Iron reacts with atmospheric oxygen to form rust, right? Well, tin, gold and platinum don't do that! They're known for it! Rar! Johnathan smash! Johnathan get worked up about scientific inaccuracy in forty-year-old comic and bitch on the internet! Johnathan sulk in comfy chair for a while!
I do love the way Oxygen looks, though. Plus the little valve that's poking up from his shoulder kind of resembles a grinning face, like Oxygen has a tiny sidekick. "Come, Thread Head, let us improbably rust some things! Take that, aluminum!"
The Carbon Brothers don't get to see much action, which is kind of a shame. Carbon Monoxide actually has a rather clever design, being represented as a Bunsen burner, of the type that offed so many scientists before they discovered the wonders of ventilation. However, he should have absolutely no effect on the Metal Men.
Carbon Dioxide is represented as a chunk of ice and would probably be really effective against some of the more brittle metals like Tin or Mercury, if any of the other members of the Gas Gang had fists with which to punch them. As it is, he's just a minor irritant. Also, he's a solid.
SPECIAL ALTERNATE INTERPRETATIONS OF THE CARBON BROTHERS!
From the same facts page that spawned Boxin' Chloroform. Check it out:
"You're cool, Carbon Dioxide! So cool that I'm going to need multiple skin grafts! Love the hat, though."
Oh lord I love Gangster Carbon Monoxide. Gangster Carbon Monoxide is possibly the best anthropomorphic personification of a gas that I've ever seen, and I've seen plenty. Gangster Carbon Monoxide should have been a Silver Age Batman villain, seriously. They could've defeated him with ionic air purifiers. Post-Crisis he could've turned up in Swamp Thing or something as a champion of the auto industry. Grant Morrison would kill him off somehow but then another writer would get nostalgic and he'd show up in an airtight cell in Arkham Asylum. He'd totally team up with Parade Hater Horace. It would be glorious.
Helium's pretty boring, frankly. He looks like a dirigible, which is thematically appropriate, but all he really does is grow, see?
I didn't even know that that was a property of helium. In fact, I don't think it is. Helium could just as easily been Just Plain Air, which would have been cheaper, at any rate.
In the Gas Gang's second outing (in which they are resurrected by a sane Doc Magnus to combat an insane amalgam of most of the Metal Men) Helium proves himself a bit more useful:
I'm not sure why he chose to inflate the Metal Man-Woman by sticking his nozzle into the only female mouth on the thing but it creeps me out slightly (I am pleased to see that Chloroform Mark II has arms, though). It's a tribute to Doc Magnus' genius that he can invent a robot composed primarily of gas and manage to simulate human perversion, but damn.